IRI’s “2020 New Product Pacesetters” report dropped this week, spotlighting new product launches on par with or ahead of consumer preferences and market trends. Because it’s about 2020, of course, many of the products reflect the peak pandemic era in which they were introduced.
For example, IRI’s Pacesetters for the most recent year reflect shopper interest in items that delivered a sense of comfort and enjoyable discovery. The top two food and beverages in IRI’s list are Bud Light Seltzer and Truly Lemonade, and several other comfort foods made the cut, including Starbucks Creamers, Cheetos Popcorn, Reese's THiNS and the Kinder Bueno chocolate bar.
Permissible indulgence is also exemplified in the choices for 2020, such as Mtn Dew Zero Sugar drink, Rebel ice cream and Reign total body fuel. Meanwhile, the addition of Beyond Sausage affirms the presence and influence of plant-based alternatives.
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In the non-food arena, the 2020 New Product Pacesetters roster indicates the appeal of helpful products at a time when much of the world was shuttered. Four laundry items made the top 20, with Downy Infusion Scents nabbing the top spot; the list includes a host of household cleaning products like #2 Brawny Tear-a-Square and #7 Viva Multi-Surface Cloth.
Underscoring the increase in pet adoptions and rescues during the COVID-19 period and the greater time spent at home with pets, Greenies dog treats ranked third on the list of non-food New Product Pacesetters from IRI.
Despite the rollout during a pandemic – or, perhaps because of the impact of the global health crisis – several of the food and beverage and non-food products were success in terms of initial sales.
"The top New Product Pacesetters of 2020 accomplished a unique feat by achieving success in circumstances never before seen in the history of Pacesetters," said Joan Driggs, VP of content and thought leadership for IRI. "Many shoppers made the leap to new products because their go-to brand was unavailable, but many also actively sought out innovation for new experiences, measured not just by dollars earned, but also by the ability to reach the intended audience.”
Ultimately, the report underlines the point of thinking like the consumer when developing innovative products, both during and beyond a continually changing marketplace.
"Understanding consumer demographics and why certain products succeed is imperative for brands, both big and small, as innovation strategists work to respond to the continuously shifting marketplace," remarked Larry Levin, EVP, market and shopper intelligence and thought leadership at IRI.
This story originally appeared on Progressive Grocer.